Chart Watch Extra: “Thriller” Turns 30
It's hard to believe, but Friday marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller, an album that appealed to all audiences—all ages, races and nationalities—like few other recordings in music history.
Jackson and producer Quincy Jones recorded and mixed the album between April and November 1982. Jones was 49 at the time. Jackson turned 24 during the sessions. The production budget was a reported $750K, which means Epic Records got a pretty good rate of return on its investment.
Thriller doesn't remotely sound 30 years old. Its best cuts, including "Billie Jean" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," still sound fresh and vital.
Happily, Jackson lived to see the album meet the test of time. In 2008, the album was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. That same year, a 25th anniversary edition became the second best-selling album in the U.S. for two weeks, a rarity for a catalog album. Also that year, Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music" (which sampled "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'") became a #3 hit, Fall Out Boy's "Beat It" (featuring John Mayer) made the top 20 and David Cook sang "Billie Jean" in route to his victory on American Idol.
To mark the anniversary, here are some things you probably know about Thriller—and some you may not.
You probably know: Thriller was the first album to produce seven top 10 singles on Billboard's Hot 100.
You may not know: Just two albums have since matched Thriller's record of seven top 10 hits: Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. and Janet Jackson's Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. Janet, who was then a 16-year old newcomer to recording, sings background vocals on "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)."
You probably know: Eddie Van Halen, then 27, played the killer guitar solo on "Beat It."